10 Aug 2007

Fiji tourism industry leader says it's the worst season in 20 years because of sanctions

2:34 pm on 10 August 2007

A tourism industry leader in Fiji says the country's suffered the worst holiday season in terms of tourist numbers in nearly 20 years.

The chair of the Tourism and Transportation Council, Jim Sherlock, says they've weathered the aftermath of three coups in Fiji, but this is the worst of all.

July and August are usually the peak months for holidaymakers in Fiji.

Mr Sherlock, who also owns a resort in Pacific Harbour, says only two of his 22-rooms are occupied, and his staff are taking home less than half their usual pay.

"Absolutely diabolical. I'm only just holding in there, but the ones who aren't coping well is my team. I've got 22 people on my staff and they're averaging about 75 dollars a week take-home pay. That's who I really feel the sanctions that New Zealand's imposed are really hurting."

Jim Sherlock says resorts across the rest of Fiji are about half-full on average.

He's rubbished the latest figures from Fiji's Bureau of Statistics, which say total hotel occupancy levels in the year to March were up two per cent on last year.